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Apple wins restraining order against N.Y. stores for trademark infringement

'Apple Story' exposed by blogger who uncovered elaborate Apple retail copycat in China

August 5, 2011 01:21 PM ET

Computerworld - A federal judge yesterday granted Apple's request for a preliminary injunction and issued a temporary restraining against several retailers for infringing Apple's trademark, according to court documents.

On July 25, Apple filed a complaint that named three companies, two individuals and 50 "John Does," in the lawsuit.

Two of the firms -- Apple Story Inc. and Fun Zone Inc. -- match the name of stores in Flushing, N.Y. located about three blocks apart on the city's Main Street. The two are represented by Samuel Chuang, also from Flushing.

Fun Zone and Chuang did not reply to requests for comment, and Apple Story was unavailable for comment.

Apple Story may have come to the attention of Apple because of the efforts of a blogger known as "BirdAbroad," who last month revealed a copycat store in Kunming, China that went to great lengths to duplicate Apple retail stores' look and feel.

After soliciting more photos from her readers, on July 23 BirdAbroad posted images of several other Apple look-alikes, including one with the sign that read "Apple Story" located in Flushing.

Within days, Chinese authorities announced that they had closed two unauthorized stores in the country for operating without a business license, but allowed several others to remain open.

Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province in southwest China -- the province borders both Laos and Vietnam -- does not have a legitimate Apple retail store. Currently, Apple has only four company-owned stores in the country, two in Beijing and two in Shanghai.

The AppleInsider blog first reported on the lawsuit Apple filed in a Brooklyn, N.Y. federal court

Details on the lawsuit are scanty because all case documents remain sealed, available only to the court and the parties' counsels.

Yesterday, however, U.S. District Court Judge Kiyo Matsumoto granted a preliminary injunction against the defendants, including Apple Story and Fun Zone, and simultaneously issued a temporary restraining order.

Typically, a preliminary injunction and the resulting retraining order bar the recipient from continuing questionable conduct until the underlying case has been decided. In a trademark dispute, the results of such an injunction and order would likely prevent the defendant from using the trademark, forcing him to change signage or even modify his business.

From the photo posted by BirdAbroad, Apple Story appears to be a smartphone accessories outlet. On Facebook, Fun Zone bills itself as a mobile phone repair shop.

Matsumoto has scheduled a show-cause hearing Aug. 12 to listen to arguments from Apple and the defendants' attorney about whether the temporary restraining order should be extended.

covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at Twitter @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed Keizer RSS. His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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